Have you ever felt like life is just pushing you along?
Like you’re caught in a current so strong you can’t stop its mighty force to slow down and do what you want?
You’re crazy busy and barely have time to do the laundry, let alone set time aside to think about what you want in life or to visit with close friends.
And yet, you pick up your phone to see what’s at the top of your Facebook feed, and then to see what’s trending on Twitter, and then to see what new pics have been posted on Instagram, and then to check out some Snapchat stories.
And then, and then, and then… over and over again.
Drugs, alcohol and cigarettes have been known to be highly addictive substances for many years. It’s time to add a new one to the list:
That’s right. I bet you thought I was going to say screens, devices, social media or any other high-tech temptations that surround us. Yes, it’s true, they’re all there. However, it’s our choice to pick them up to take a peek that is leading us to numbness.
What’s numbness? The absence of aliveness. But what the heck is aliveness?
Before jumping in to describe how I think about aliveness, I’d love for you to consider what it means for you. When was the last time you felt truly alive? What were you doing? Who were you with? How did you feel?
Many people tend to gravitate towards things that make them feel happy. I’m here to explain how, although happiness is part of aliveness, it’s only a small portion of the bigger picture. Here are six pillars of aliveness and a few things to consider as you make choices that impact how alive (or numb) you might be feeling.
1. Purpose – What do you want? Why do you want it? Why are you here? What choices are you making every single day that get you closer to creating the legacy you want to leave behind long after you’ve left this world?
Purpose is the starting point to living an intentional life. Once you take some time to figure this out, you can start making choices, big and small, that move you in the right direction. When was the last time you spent time thinking about your purpose?
2. Connection – Who do you like spending time with? What places do you love to go to? How’s your spirituality? There’s something in our DNA that makes us creatures who love connection. It’s called oxytocin and it’s something our brain releases when we’re with other people, even if it’s not in person. Did you know that hugging is one of the best ways to release oxytocin?
Paul Zak, an expert on oxytocin who is often referred to as Dr. Love recommends eight hugs a day. These are in real life, of course. Who have you hugged today?
3. Energy – Personal well-being enables us to pursue what we want. Mentally, physically, nutritionally, and emotionally, we need the energy to pursue our dreams. What choices do you make that prevent you from being as healthy as you can be?
4. Present & Engaged – Mindfulness has become a very popular topic recently. Meditation, journaling and reflection are all techniques that promise to improve our ability to concentrate and to stay focused. Being in the moment, not stuck regretting what happened yesterday or worrying about what might happen next is something we can all use a little practice with given the bevvy of distractions that we are engulfed in.
How hard is it for you to stay present and engaged in a conversation when you have your phone in your hand or even in your pocket? Buzz! Did you feel that? I’m pretty sure you just got a notification. Better check.
Or should you?
5. S.A.S.H.E.T. – An acronym used by psychologists to simplify the full range of human emotion: sad, angry, scared, happy, excited, and tender. There it is. See? Happiness is part of aliveness. We tend to avoid sad, angry, and scared because they make us feel uncomfortable. Whereas happy, excited and tender feel good. They cause releases of dopamine in our bodies. We like that feeling and it is motivating so we do more things that cause that release.
The ability to have “all the feels” is uniquely human. What do you do to allow yourself to feel all of these emotions? What do you do to numb them? A beer or glass of wine at the end of a tough day, perhaps? Burying yourself in your device? Posting something you think is cool, so you can get some likes because it makes you feel good? When was the last time you had a good cry without an awkward laugh to try to make it go away?
We are at choice. We get to make thousands of choices each and every day. Even not making a choice is a choice. That’s right. When you decide to sit on your couch and do nothing, you’re still making a choice. It’s time to shift from being pushed along by the river of life to surfing the wave of aliveness.
Given the six pillars of aliveness above, what will you do to feel more alive? What do you already do?